Study Guide

The Return of Sherlock Holmes "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"

  • Watson let's us know that this is a very unusual story and it has to be shrouded in some secrecy in order to protect people's identities. Color us intrigued, Watson.
  • One night Holmes comes in and tells Watson they're about to have a visitor.
  • The visitor is a Charles Augustus Milverton, a professional blackmailer who is scum of the earth in Holmes's opinion.
  • Holmes has been hired by a Lady Eva Blackwell to deal with Milverton, who is blackmailing her with some old love letters on the eve of her wedding to a super-rich nobleman.
  • Milverton comes over and is a friendly looking guy in his 50s. Not typical super-villain material.
  • He toys with Holmes and Watson and demands a huge amount of money from Lady Eva.
  • Holmes says she can't pay it and offers a lower amount.
  • Milverton refuses, and Holmes tries to reason with him.
  • Then Holmes springs up, and he and Watson grab Milverton.
  • Milverton mocks them and says that he isn't stupid enough to carry Lady Eva's letters around with him.
  • He mocks them some more and then leaves.
  • Holmes and Watson just got owned.
  • Sherlock Holmes won't be beat, though, so he gets to work.
  • A few days later, Holmes comes in to announce that he's engaged.
  • A confused Watson wonders if Holmes has had a mental breakdown.
  • Turns out Holmes is fake-engaged to a maid in Milverton's house.
  • Watson questions the morality of such an action, and Holmes brushes him off.
  • He then announces that he pumped his fiancĂ©e for intel so that he can break in to Milverton's house.
  • Watson is horrified.
  • Holmes convinces Watson that their illegal actions are morally justifiable in this case, since Milverton is the Devil, or something.
  • Watson then insists that he's coming with Holmes and Holmes argues a bit but finally says OK. He can't do anything without his wingman.
  • Holmes points out that they can share a prison cell this way too.
  • That night the two head off to break in to Milverton's home.
  • They even put on bandanas to hide their faces, which is hilarious. They must've gotten burglary confused with bank robbery.
  • They sneak in to the house and are super stealthy.
  • Once in Milverton's study, Holmes gets out his tools to break in to Milverton's safe, and Watson stands guard.
  • Things are going well until Holmes hears a noise.
  • He and Watson duck behind some curtains and in walks Milverton. Oops.
  • Holmes is totally calling off this engagement now. He got bad intel out of the bargain.
  • Milverton chills out a while and finally a mystery woman knocks at the door.
  • She is let in by Milverton, and he gripes that she's late.
  • Milverton thinks she's there to buy some letters, but he then recognizes her.
  • The lady dramatically removes her veil and then speechifies for a bit about how Milverton blackmailed her, ruined her life, caused her husband to die of a broken heart, etc.
  • Milverton tries to throw her out, but she pulls out a gun and shoots him right in the chest.
  • Milverton dies after some dramatic stumbling around, and the mystery lady scampers away.
  • Holmes and Watson are stunned.
  • Holmes recovers quickly and tosses all of Milverton's papers into the fire.
  • He and Watson then run for it.
  • They are nearly caught scaling a wall in the garden by the cops, who showed up after gun shots were heard.
  • But they dynamic duo make it away safely.
  • The next day our buddy Inspector Lestrade comes by Baker Street and fills Holmes and Watson in on Milverton's shocking murder.
  • Two suspects were seen fleeing the scene, one who looked a bit like Watson.
  • Holmes and Watson just shrug. They never tell anyone anything about what they did and saw.
  • A while later they see a famous lady's picture in a shop window and realize that she's the murderer. They never tell anyone her identity though.

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